Students chant: 'Elections now!' during a protest in Caracas, Venezuela, on Monday, 23 January 2017. Thousands of opponents of President Nicolas Maduro took part in the march. Photo: Fernando Llano / AP

By Sofia Barbarani
23 January 2017

CARACAS, Venezuela (The Washington Post) – Political parties called for a nationwide protest Monday against Venezuela’s socialist-oriented government but attracted only several thousand people, in a sign of the difficulties the opposition is facing in building a strong protest movement even as the nation descends into crisis.

In September, massive crowds estimated at up to 1 million people turned out for a march to promote a vote to recall President Nicolás Maduro, but election officials later ruled out holding such a referendum in 2016. An opposition coalition is still pushing for a new presidential vote, as well as a date for regional elections that are due this year.

This oil-rich country has been in a severe economic crisis because of plummeting petroleum prices and government mismanagement, resulting in skyrocketing inflation and dire food and medicine shortages. […]

“I thought there would be more people,” said 54-year-old Freddy Cabrices, a member of Capriles’s party who was wearing a baseball cap in the Venezuelan colors. “People have stopped protesting because they’ve become fearful,” he added.

Down the road, another marcher, Eliana Munoz, 47, admitted to being frustrated by the limited progress that the opposition had made.

“We’ve not achieved anything, and people are demotivated,” she said. […]

Far from the loud music of the protest, in one of the capital’s nicer neighborhoods, Juan Guillermo Hensbergen, a ­70-year-old writer, sat in the morning sun.

“I’ve been to eight marches in three years and I’ve seen no results,” said Hensbergen, sipping a cup of coffee. “People are tired, there are fewer students, and they’re the ones who overthrow governments. People are also fearful.” [more]

Thousands march against Maduro government in Venezuela as crisis deepens


Growth projections for Latin America and the Caribbean, 2015-2018. Graphic: IMF

By Alvaro Algarra
24 January 2017

CARACAS (Voice of America) – Venezuelans, already experiencing severe shortages of food and other consumer goods amid the country's worst economic crisis, are likely to feel even more pain as the year unfolds, the International Monetary Fund grimly predicts.

The South American country is “on a path to hyperinflation,” with economic activity “projected to contract sharply … while inflation is expected to accelerate further,” Alejandro Werner, the IMF's Western Hemisphere director, wrote in the organization's latest outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Contributing factors include a large and growing deficit, “extensive economic distortions, and a severe restriction on the availability of imports of intermediate goods,” Werner wrote in the assessment posted Monday on an IMF website. [more]

Venezuela's Economic Woes Will Deepen, IMF Predicts

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